Eight Steps Q&A

Eight Steps Q&A: Ian Smith

Published on Sunday 28 July 2019

Comedian Ian Smith offers some tips on how to get the most from the Edinburgh Festival, in eight steps…

1: Beyond posters and reviews, how do you suggest people pick shows to see at this year’s Fringe?
Word of mouth is probably the best way to choose a show – find a like-minded friend and see what they’ve enjoyed the most. Also, it’s worth just taking a chance and seeing something at random, because there is so much going on, you never know what might blow you away.

2: What tips have you got for people trying to see as many shows as possible in one day – how can you power through?
Allow enough time for toilet stops! I’ve tried to cram in three shows in a row before and the third one I just spent the whole time thinking about how much I needed to piss. I have no memory of that third show at all.

3: When people are reaching peak Fringe, what tips do you have for chilling out during the Festival?
Find somewhere a bit away from the centre, or a cafe that not many people know about, to get away from the crowds. It’s nice to have a few moments with a bit of space doing nothing, as opposed to jostling for space with the silent discos on the already busy pavements.

4: What things do you think should be on every Fringe-goers Edinburgh Festival bucket list?
Getting in a good position to see the fireworks going off from the castle at the end of the day.

5: Beyond the flyer, what tips have you got for performers trying to get people into their shows?
As useless as this advice may seem, just working on making the show as good as it can be – and, for stand-up comedians in particular, there are a ton of guest slots where you can perform and plug the show. Book in as many as you can do without tiring yourself out.

6: The Fringe can be great for finding a new audience. What tips would you have for staying connected with that new audience beyond Edinburgh?
I think the main thing is to be active on social media and to keep creating content for audiences to see in between your shows. After this Fringe I’m going to up my tweet-per-day stats. Everybody loves stats.

7: Performing at the Fringe is partly about building a network. What tips have you got for people looking to make connections in the industry?
Go and see shows and be nice to people. It’s easy to just focus on yourself and get bogged down with work. Go and see shows by interesting people and congratulate them and start a conversation if you see them afterwards.

8: How would you recommend performers stay healthy during all the Fringe madness?
My big thing is going to a steam room – I am a big fan of steam. Weirdly, I hate the genre of steam-punk. I join a gym in Edinburgh and use the pool and steam room to try and unwind (I’m putting this in brackets as I’m not confident it’s true – but steam rooms might help your voice too. Who knows – it sounds right though).

Ian Smith is performing ‘Half-Life’ at Underbelly from 31 Jul-25 Aug.